* If you have not read or begun to read 1984 for the summer, i suggest you do- this is not some book you can just rely on internet notes for!
CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTERS 1 - 2
The first two chapters of the novel give a vivid description of the state of Oceania under an authoritarian, single-party rule. The main character, Winston Smith, is living in what used to be called London before the Revolution. It is clear to the reader that he is not supportive of the totalitarian government of Oceania.
In Chapters 1 and 2, Winston Smith is shown struggling to write a diary away from the prying eyes of the telescreen installed in his flat. He reminisces about the incident that has occurred in the Ministry of Truth, where Winston works in the records department. That morning, during the 2-minute hate session, Winston sees O'Brien, one of the top officials of the Inner Party. While everyone during the hate session was shouting and screaming at Goldstein, the enemy and traitor to Oceania, Winston pauses for a moment and turns. For perhaps a second or two, his eyes meet with O'Brien's. Something in O'Brien's eyes makes Winston think that, like him, O'Brien is not a loyal party member.
While writing his diary, Winston is suddenly interrupted by his neighbor, Mrs. Parsons, who asks him to help her fix a pipe in her kitchen. Relieved that it was not the police, Winston goes over to the Parsons' flat, which is dirty and smelly. While leaving their flat, Winston is struck with a catapult by the Parsons' youngest son; he also accuses Winston of being a traitor. This makes Winston rather uneasy and he wonders if he is really safe from the thought police.
The novel opens with a description of the futuristic society of Oceania. It is a highly mechanized, unemotional state that is ruled by the iron hand of a single party dictatorship. Life in Oceania is not pleasant. The physical deprivation and the bomb attacks on the city where Winston lives bring to mind images of Soviet society and war-torn Britain. There are shortages of essential items, such as food, clothing, and razor blades, all of which have to be rationed, just as in Soviet society and war- torn Britain.
Winston Smith represents the loneliness and alienation of the individual in a monstrous society ruled by machines and telescreens, which govern every single aspect of life. It is a society that denies friendship, companionship, love, trust, and family ties. It is also a society where no one is allowed to think against or question the Ruling Party. Neighbors and children are taught to spy on others and report any improper behavior to the authorities. It is significant to note in Chapter 2 that the Parsons' youngest child attacks Winston and accuses him of being a traitor. Even the smallest children are brainwashed
Since he cannot express himself openly in this society, Winston's diary becomes a medium in which he can pour out his innermost feelings against Oceania; but he must hide his writing from the telescreen, or the diary will be confiscated and destroyed and Winston will be punished. Having spent his childhood during the days preceding the revolution, Winston looks back in nostalgically. He knows that those days were different, "a time when thought is free, where men are different from one another and do not live alone." Winston longs for such freedom again.
Winston works at The Ministry of Truth, a branch of the government whose name is totally ironic; it is the propaganda machine of the party. It is here that facts, information, and the past are altered to fit the ideas of the Party. If needed, people, places, and events are simply erased permanently. It is obvious that the party wants to maintain control over the masses through both physical force and mind control.
Even in these first two chapters, it is obvious that Winston is not a supporter of the politics or practices of the Ruling Party. He hates being monitored by the telescreen, resents being hit and called a traitor by the young Parson child, and dislikes the human anonymity in which he lives at home and at work. He also believes that O'Brien, a government official, is really not a loyal party member, just like him; that is why Winston identifies with him. It is important to note O'Brien's name. First, no first name is given; as an important member of the Inner Party, he does not need one. In addition, O'Brien is also an Irish name. Perhaps Orwell has chosen it to show the truly classless nature of this society or to reflect some personal feeling about the Irish, since this is the man who will betray and torture his protagonist.
Winston knows that he would be punished, probably killed, for his "thoughtcrimes" if they were suspected or detected. At this point in the novel, however, he believes that no suspicion is cast upon him. Winston is wrong in this judgment, as he will often be in the novel.
In Chapter 3, Winston is asleep, dreaming about his mother. He sees his mother and a baby sister sinking into a dark hole, probably a well. They are looking up at him while he stands there watching. Winston's mother had disappeared when he was just 10 or 11 years old, but he has often dreamed of her. Next he dreams about a dark-haired girl in a beautiful countryside. In the dream, the dark-haired girl from his office throws her clothes aside and walks towards him. Her nakedness does not evoke any desire in him. Instead, what overwhelms him is the gesture. By her taking off her clothes, the girl seems to have destroyed the authority and control of the party. His dream is interrupted by the shrill whistle from the telescreen. It is the alarm to wake all office workers, which is sounded at 7:15 a.m. everyday. Winston drags himself out of his bed, totally naked, since he cannot afford pajamas. Each member of the Party receives only 3,000 coupons annually for clothes; a suit of pajamas costs 600 coupons. Winston can do without them.
Winston is in a bad shape physically, suffering from vericose ulcer. Each morning he wakes up with a violent coughing fit. This morning is no different, and for a few minutes, he is doubled up on his bed, coughing till he grasps for breath.
The telescreen calls everyone between the ages of 30 and 40 to get ready for the daily exercise workout. Winston is forced to get out of bed and join the exercise. Dressed in shorts and singlet, he wears an expression of grim enjoyment on his face, despite the pain in his chest.
During the 'physical jerks,' he thinks about Oceania's current war with Eurasia. The party says that Eurasia has never been an ally of Oceania, but Winston recalls that about four years ago, Eurasia was, indeed, recognized as an ally. He also realizes that he is probably one of the only ones who remember the fact, for everybody is expected to accept whatever the party says or claims and forget everything else. It is also impossible to prove history since all written records are altered to the Party's liking.
In this chapter, more is learned about the protagonist. Winston suffers from vericose ulcer, a condition that often makes him feel terrible and gasp for breath. His mother disappeared when he was a young boy of 10 or 11, but he still dreams about her. It is a recurring nightmare that disturbs Winston again later in the story. After he has the dream, Winston always feels that he is in some way responsible for her death.
Winston also dreams about a nameless girl in his office, who sheds her clothes in the dream, in defiance of the government. Winston is subconsciously searching for a female companion who will dare to defy the Party with him. Ironically, the girl in his dreams is Julia, his lover later in the novel. Their companionship and lovemaking will be in direct defiance of government orders. It is important to note that at this point in the novel, Winston believes that his nameless worker is in reality a member of the Thought Police. Obviously, he judges her incorrectly, just as he judged O'Brien incorrectly in the earlier chapter. In this totalitarian state, one can never know or trust the surrounding people.
The depth of control of the government is also depicted in this chapter. The Ruling Party rations the necessities of life, and they establish prices as well. Winston, like other Party workers, receives only 3000 coupons per year for clothing, and a pair of pajamas costs 600 coupons, or 1/5 of the year's clothing allowance. Each morning at 7:15 the telescreen screeches a whistle to wake all government workers. After quickly emerging from bed, they must participate in an exercise program directed by Big Brother via the telescreen. Everyone is expected to put on a show of pretending to enjoy the daily workout; if a person refuses to smile, the thought police will grow suspicious of him. After the grueling exercise program, the workers must go to the job prescribed by the government. Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth involves altering recorded history and government documents as Big Brother directs.
Chapter 4 gives a detailed description of the work that Winston performs at the Ministry of Truth. His work, though extremely creative, is to falsify all historical facts to suit the party's interests. His routine work requires him to regularly make changes in the five year plan and in the forecasts on production, to match the actual production taking place. Winston also makes changes in the speeches made by Big Brother and creates imaginary people, while erasing the names of people who had once lived but were 'vaporised' or killed by the party. All this is done to maintain the interests and reputation of the Ruling Party.
Winston's work is described in detail. He is bothered by the dishonesty of his work. He also dislikes its impersonal nature; he does not even know the names of many of his co-workers. People do not want to get to know other people, for everyone fears the person next to them is a hidden member of the Thought Police, who is eager to report a betrayal. Like Winston, his co-workers are plain and ordinary in appearance. They are a stark contrast to the beautiful people on the telescreen who constantly speak the propaganda of the Party. Like modern television advertising, the televised salesmanship of the government is very effective; therefore, Orwell is making a harsh criticism of all types of propaganda.
CHAPTERS 5 - 6
In these two chapters, Winston is shown trying to curb his natural instincts. He is relieved only when he goes to a prostitute. In chapter 5, the reader is introduced to Syme, who is working at the Ministry of Truth on the eleventh edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Syme meets Winston in the staff canteen, and they discuss the finer points of the new language, Newspeak, over lunch. Syme tells Winston that the new language has less words than the old language, for the Party has banned all the words that it thought not acceptable. Words like sex or words to express feelings have been eliminated.
The Party looks down upon sex. The process of reproduction is accomplished through artificial insemination or 'art sem' as it is called in the new language. Married couples are allowed to have sex, but it has become an act without joy. Winston's recollections of his wife, who does not live with him anymore, bring back painful memories of his attempts to make love to her; he always felt as though he was having sex with a skeleton. His wife, like all other women in the new society, has been taught from her teens that sex and sexual desire is dirty; therefore, her reaction to any kind of physical overture is to stiffen up. She also fears that Big Brother is always watching via the telescreen.
The Party's disapproval and guidelines on sexual matters is a reflection of its desire to have total control over the private lives of all individuals. Winston suffers from his natural sexual drive, which he cannot satisfy due to the restrictions of the state. He has recurring sexual dreams of the dark-haired girl who works in the fiction department of the Ministry of Truth; but at this point in the novel, he has no interaction with her. Instead, he satisfies his sexual drive through a prostitute. In the end, his sexual drives lead to his downfall.
Though Syme makes a brief appearance, Winston's attitude towards Syme and Syme's nature are extremely significant. Syme delivers a speech to Winston about Newspeak, the language of the new society; through Newspeak, the Party hopes to further control the populace and eliminate thoughtcrimes. The fact that Winston is scared to describe Syme as his friend, but someone he likes to talk to, serves to heighten the feeling of loneliness of the individual shorn of all affection and human bonds. Secondly, the nature of Syme and his blunt, tactless, and jocular remarks about Parsons, make Winston rather uneasy. Orwell implies that the party expects a certain kind of behavior from the members of the party, and any deviation from it is monitored and registered as a crime against the party. Winston's uneasiness, therefore, has a basis, for he is sure that, sooner or later, Syme will be put to death for his sharp tongue. Winston does not want to be implicated because he is recognized as Syme's friend.
CHAPTERS 7 - 8
Winston is still writing his diary secretly. He continues to contemplate the society created by the Party. The more he thinks about the encroachment on individual freedom, the lack of privacy, the loneliness, and the deliberate alteration of the past, the more he wonders if there is a way of overthrowing or weakening the Party.
The Party, through its massive propaganda machinery, spreads the idea that life in the new society is much better than it was before the revolution. In reality, the condition of the masses is bad. There is a scarcity of essential items, poorly paid jobs, and the overpowering smell of garbage everywhere. Yet, in Chapter 8, as Winston walks around in the dark streets where the 'proles' or the working class lives, he sees for himself that freedom, individual freedom and the human bonds of family, love, and affection, still remain intact.
Winston is convinced that if there is any hope for the future generation, it lies in the Proles. If they are made conscious, their collective strength can overthrow the Party. But what disturbs Winston is that due to the constant bombardment from the propaganda machinery, all memories, records, and details of life before the revolution are being erased. The propaganda is so pervasive that when the party claims that airplanes have been invented after the revolution, everyone accepts it. Though Winston knows how this lie is being spun and is accepted as the truth, he is unable to understand the motive behind it.
Through a subtle play of images, the depiction of the ambiance through sounds, smell, and color, the author draws sharp contrasts between the lives led by the Party members and the 'proles'. The contrasts only serve to further heighten the feeling of alienation of the individual from society. Moreover, the Party Ingsoc's slogan, animals and proles are free, reveal the Party's contempt for the proles. This fact is ironic because the Party has come to power to serve the interests of the proletariat. Besides, it also shows the Party's attitude towards freedom. Freedom of thought is a basic and natural right of all human beings that the Party is denying its members. In fact, the concept of freedom in the new society is turned to its opposite, where freedom is slavery.
Winston shows a great deal of naiveté in thinking that the proles may some day revolt against the Party. A revolution takes strong leadership, and the Party squelches any hint of leadership before it is allowed to develop.
It is important to realize that at the end of Part I, Winston has been created as a normal, sane man in terms of contemporary thinking. But in the world depicted in 1984, he is not normal or sane. His way of thinking is considered a thought crime and not appropriate to the world of Big Brother. He is concerned about history, curious about truth and life, and driven by sexual desires, all of which are unacceptable to Party practices. Because of his thoughts, Winston knows that he is different than almost all others in the state of Oceania; as a result, he feels an extreme sense of loneliness and isolation. Orwell has totally prepared the reader for the action that takes place in Part II and Part III of the book.
CHAPTERS 1 - 4
These chapters describe the love that blossoms between Julia and Winston. It happens quite suddenly. One day while walking in the corridor of the Ministry of Truth, Winston meets the dark-haired girl of his dreams. The girl stumbles, and as Winston tries to help her, she thrusts a note in his hand and walks away without a word. When he returns to his cubicle, Winston hides the note between some other papers so it will not be seen by prying eyes or screens. He then cautiously reads the contents of the note. In large handwriting, he finds three words, "I love you." Winston can hardly believe his eyes.
After several failed attempts, Winston finally meets the girl in a crowded street, where she asks him to meet her at Paddington. To avoid suspicion, they travel by separate routes to the countryside. When they meet in Paddington, the girl leads Winston to a sheltered spot in the forest, where Winston learns more about her. Her name is Julia, and she is twenty-six years old. She has had several secret liaisons with other men, both young and old. Like Winston, she hates the party and its strict regulations.
Julia and Winston make love in the secret hideout. When they part, they leave separately. They continue to meet again, always at a different place, so as not to arouse suspicion. Each time, Julia does the planning and decides the location. After the intimacy of each meeting, Winston feels like a real human. The presence of Julia in his life has suddenly given Winston a reason to live; ironically, it also brings him closer to death.
Both Winston and Julia believe that they will soon be caught by the Thought Police, in spite of their extreme caution. In the meantime, they enjoy each other's company, relish the freedom they have stolen, and grow to care for each other.
Winston has considered the possibility in an earlier chapter that Julia is a member of the Thought Police. When she passes him the note, however, he accepts it at face value and does not even think it could be a possible trap. His sexual frustration is so high that he throws caution to the wind. Although Julia's advances are not instigated by the Party, the fact that Winston responds to her is his undoing. Because of his involvement with Julia, he is certain to be viewed as an enemy of the party and to be appropriately punished. The irony is that Winston, because of his involvement with Julia, feels hope again, but he has put himself into a hopeless situation.
It is important to realize the significance of the lovemaking scene in the woods. Everything in Part I of the book leads up to it, and everything in the rest of the book stems from it. The act of lovemaking between Winston and Julia becomes more that an emotional release for the two of them; it is a form of rebellion for them against the Party's limits on individual freedom.
Much is learned about the character of Julia in these chapters. The fact that she always takes the initiative to plan and decide a safe hiding place for both of them to meet reveals her practical mind. But she seems to exist only for the moment and the next sexual event in her life. She is portrayed as a physical woman who enjoys the pure animalistic side of living. She does not have the intellect or depth of thought that Winston possesses, but she definitely influences her lover. Though diametrically opposite by nature, both Julia and Winston enjoy each other's company.
Winston has been deprived of sex for many years, and even in his marriage, he found no sexual satisfaction. As a result, he is very immature about male-female relationships. He falls totally in love with Julia and begins to have an unrealistic view of his world because of his feelings for her. He looks into the glass paperweight and imagines it is a world where he and Julia can be safe and free from Party constraints. In the past, he has been very concerned about living cautiously, so he can stay alive. Now he is living in a dream world that is sure to bring his death.
In this chapter Winston discovers that his friend Syme has suddenly disappeared, probably 'vaporised' by the Party as Winston has earlier predicted. Further, Winston discusses the workings of the Party with Julia. Though she is uninterested in the political views of the Party, she believes that if she follows all their small rules, she can easily break a bigger one from time to time. This is why she always puts on a show of participating in all the cultural activities of the Party. It is also why she believes she can break the rules of sexual misconduct.
Unlike Winston, Julia is not disturbed about the Party's deliberate alteration and falsification of history and other facts. She accepts much of the propaganda, and even believes that Oceania has invented airplanes and has always been at war with Eurasia. In her practicality, her only concern is her immediate, personal freedom. Winston, on the other hand, is concerned about abstract ideas and dreams about a future that has freedom restored for everyone.
Syme's sudden disappearance is not unexpected. It only confirms Winston's fears that any one who deviates from the set standard of behavior expected by the Ingsoc will soon cease to exist.
In fact, the response or lack of any response from Syme's co- workers reveal that he no longer exists in their memories either.
Winston's discussions with Julia give the reader an insight into how they feel different about the Party. Julia is far more realistic and clear about the motives behind the intellectual suppression. Perhaps it is because Julia is apathetic to the political views of the party that she is also able to cope with and survive better than Winston can in the new society. For Julia, Party rules and restrictions are cumbersome only if they affect her personally. For Winston, the inner workings of Ingsoc are a threat not only to him but also to future generations.
It is important to note that at this point in the novel, Julia and Winston, although rebelling against the sexual restrictions imposed by the Party, are really ordinary people, satisfying ordinary needs. The more time they spend together, the more they act like a typical husband and wife; she handles the practical domestic matters, while Winston ponders weightier issues related to the Party. The main desire is simply to be left alone to live out their lives as they choose. In Oceania, however, that will never happen.
CHAPTER 6 - 8
In these few, short chapters, O'Brien invites Winston to his flat, under the pretext of giving him the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. The invitation makes Winston all the more sure that O'Brien, the inner party member, belongs to Brotherhood, the secret organization working against the Party. In this image, he sees in O'Brien a ray of hope for the future.
Julia and Winston meet regularly above Mr.Charrington's shop, which sells secondhand goods and odds and ends. It is located on a dark street in the part of the city where the proles reside. Confident that there are no telescreens here, Julia and Winston make it their permanent hiding place.
In Chapter 7, while sleeping next to Julia on the double bed above Mr.Charrington's shop, Winston wakes up with tears in his eyes. He has had another dream of his childhood where he again watches his mother and his baby sister being sucked into something dark.
In Chapter 8, both Julia and Winston meet O'Brien at his luxurious flat. He tells them about the Brotherhood and initiates them into the group. During their meeting with O'Brien, Julia and Winston promise to lie, cheat, sabotage, kill, and everything possible to weaken Ingsoc.
Julia and Winston leave O'Brien's flat separately. Before Winston leaves, O'Brien informs him that the black book containing the principles of the Brotherhood will be sent to him secretly.
Orwell's ability to use color as well as to create an ambiance is evident once again in the chapter where Winston and Julia meet O'Brien at his luxurious flat. Orwell describes the carpet, the clear white walls, the good quality cigarettes, and the wine which Julia and Winston drink. This description suggests that the Inner Party members are the privileged few in the new society; as a result, Ingsoc's claims that they have created a classless society is only a myth. The clothing also indicates the Party hierarchy. Julia and Winston wear blue, while O'Brien always wears a uniform of black overalls to show he is part of the Inner Party. His black uniform brings to mind the 'black shirts' of the party of the Italian dictator, Mussolini.
It is important to notice, once again, how casually Winston accepts O'Brien's invitation. In the past he has questioned everything and everyone, sure that the Party is trying to entrap him. Now he goes to O'Brien's house and is totally duped by this Inner Party member, who is soon to betray Winston and Julia. Because of his love for Julia, Winston has let down his guard. He also fools himself into believing that no matter what the Party does to him physically, his inner feelings can never be altered or controlled. In other ways, however, he has not changed. Winston's recurring dream about his mother shows that he remains guilt ridden; he still believes that he is somehow indirectly responsible for her death.
CHAPTERS 9 - 10
It is the end of the week-long celebration of hate. The targets of this celebration are all those who the Ingsoc claims to be traitors or a threat to the state of Oceania. After the celebration, really a mass frenzy against the traitors and the constant singing of the hate song, Winston goes to the secret hideout with the black book containing Goldstein's principles for the Brotherhood. He reads first few chapters aloud to Julia. In these chapters, there is a description of how the superstates of Oceania, Eurasia, and East Asia were created. The relationship between these three states and the purposes of constant war are also explained. Winston stops reading when he realizes that Julia has fallen asleep. For some time, Winston is contented lying peacefully next to Julia; then he also falls asleep.
Julia and Winston both wake up and stand at the window holding each other and listening to a fat woman singing a popular love song. While still at the window, a voice from somewhere behind them orders them to freeze. The Thought Police surround the entire shop, and both Julia and Winston are arrested. To Winston's shock, the old man who owns the shop, Mr. Charrington, turns out to be in the Thought Police.
The 'Book' in the novel is a parody on Leon Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed. In fact the traitorous Goldstein, who has supposedly written the black book, is even described as looking like Trotsky. The book gives Winston new insights into how Ingsoc retains its power through changing the facts of history and controlling the minds of people. It also shows how the Party creates whatever reality it chooses. Winston agrees with the ideas in the book; but he still does not learn about the motive of the Party.
Orwell has prepared the reader for the arrest of the couple in an ironic way. Winston has just been reading the supposed Black Book of the Brotherhood to Julia. It has been given to him by O'Brien, whom Winston has naively and uncharacteristically trusted, just as he has trusted Charrington. He has gained a few new insights from the book, but Julia has fallen asleep while he read to her. As always, she has no interest in political views. Feeling relaxed, secure, and content, Winston decides to sleep beside his lover. When they wake, they stand in an embrace at the window, not fearing discovery in this proletariat part of town. Then in this moment of pure contentment, Big Brother calls out to them. Julia and Winston have been set up every step of the way, from Charrington to O'Brien.
At the time of their arrests, the glass paper weight is appropriately smashed to pieces. It has been Winston's idealistic symbol of freedom for Julia and himself. Like the paperweight, Winston's dreams have suddenly been shattered against the harsh reality of the Party. Julia virtually vanishes from the story after her arrest, and Part III concentrates on Winston's confrontation with O'Brien.